Tell a single person that you don’t want to have a second child and, most likely, she’ll look at you like you’re nuts. She’ll tell you that your child needs a sibling. She’ll tell you that your children can pay their own way through college. There is no sympathy for your reasons. In fact, she’s off to the next topic before you can even share them.
Tell another mother that you don’t want to have a second child and she’ll look at you with understanding eyes and maybe just ask “why?” She gets it. She’s been there. She’s done that. She knows what getting knocked up, giving birth and having a baby brings on. She can empathize.
Whenever I go to family get-togethers, the new introductory question in small talk is always some variation of “When are you having another baby?” Most often it even precedes, “How are you doing?” It’s the $100,000 question with an empty bank account. There is no winning answer. No matter how I answer, I am wrong for someone, either myself or them.
Just so I never have to answer this question again, here are the top five reasons why one is enough (for me):
1. There is only so much my body can take. Some women are built to be baby-making machines, genetically. They’re running on the treadmill hours after the delivery. These are the women that can eat an apple and iron a shirt while holding two babies in their arms like they’re footballs. These are the women that breastfed successfully, on the first try. These are the women who don’t need an epidural and don’t complain about it. They might even sing during the delivery. They pop out babies while eating a sandwich (Okay, I am exaggerating, but it seems like it).
Not all women are built the same. I’m still recuperating from the 34 hours of labor and 60+ stitches that my first child dealt out. Pretty much anything that has gone wrong with my body in the past four years, I can blame on pregnancy or the delivery. My bladder has prolapsed, so if I drink two beers, I have to drink them while I’m on the toilet. If I laugh or cough too hard, I better have a spare pair of undies. I now understand why Depends is so successful. I get UTIs about as frequently as menstruation.
My hip rotated somehow during the delivery and I get tendonitis sometimes. If I don’t workout, it might relapse. I spent three weeks last year on crutches.
If I have another kid, I’m afraid my bladder would fall out. I might need a walker too. Or, worse yet, I’d be one of those parents on a scooter at Disney World. The baby could lie in the basket, I guess, but I love walking.
2. I like being married to my husband. Having a baby affects every part of a relationship. All of your energy is put into one tiny, little creature. Your mood is affected by their health, well-being and ability to listen. When they don’t listen, there’s a lot of pounding, screaming and crying. My husband and I start to go berserk and pretty soon everyone is screaming.
We’ve finally found our groove, though. We’re a happy threesome. We are the three musketeers. Why mess with a good thing?
Every time we go on vacation, I watch families of four, five and six and they look so frazzled. One kid is screaming, while the other one is running in circles. Both parents are frowning and look like they could use a stiff drink.
We are crazy enough without another child. I prefer the nice and mellow life of having one. We only take up three seats on the plane and it’s perfect: aisle, middle and window. Not to mention, we can afford to travel.
3. Money doesn’t grow on trees. We’d like to pay for our daughter’s education, so she can enjoy her life and do the same for her own child. Social security is soon to be a faint memory. Not to mention, by the time she reaches college, it may be near impossible to get into a state college or university. She may have to go private and that will be close to $400k by then.
My husband and I would like to retire before we’re 75. Let’s face it. After the delivery I had and if I have another, I’ll be on a catheter when I’m 65. I don’t want to lug a bag, dangling from my walker, when I go to work. It’s just disrespectful.
4. I can’t imagine loving another child the way I love my daughter. She’s pretty fantastic. In fact, she’s the best. No one can top her. Why make another child feel like they’re second fiddle?
Right now, we can afford to send her to preschool, ballet, piano and swimming. If we have another one, we’d have to pick one to go to college. And, if my daughter is as unlucky as I am at rochambo, then she would be asking you, “do you want fries with that?”
Having another child to make sure the first child always has someone to be there for him or her is just an assumption. Are all siblings close? Not really. My mother doesn’t even talk to her brothers. Her friends are her family. Sibling rivalry is a common term for a reason.
5. I’m too old. I would hit menopause before my second kid hit their teen years. That sounds very dangerous. If menopause is anything like my monthly bill, my kids would start calling me Linda Blair.
Then, there is all of the genetic testing and the possibility of having a special needs child. As one of my friends says, when she contemplates having another child, “my husband already has special needs.” I don’t want to gamble with my daughter’s livelihood and attention, just to have another kid who may need me even more. I don’t think it’s fair to her.
There is always a seed of doubt in my mind. It’s such a tiny seed, that you can’t see it with the naked eye. My husband keeps asking me when we can rid the garage of all of the baby clothes and toys. I’m still holding onto everything, but I’m pretty certain we’ll be giving it all away soon. Sometimes, it’s hard to let go, even though you know it’s the right thing to do.
Who knows, maybe I’ll be one of those 50-year-old women who regrets her decision and does IVF. Anything is possible, I guess. But, it’s my decision, nonetheless.